« Leica: Could Be Worse | Main | Deals o' the Day »

Monday, 25 January 2010


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

I rotated my art, but frankly, I don't get it. Most of my pictures look pretty stupid upside down. Of course a lot of them look stupid right side up as well, but I can't see where this is much of an improvement.

Ctein "nasty little secret...."

Boring! Having writers block? Slow news
day? Tell me something I don't know.

I don't have much of a collection, but the best thing I did for it (and for evaluation of my own work) was to install several shallow shelves with lips right to the walls. This lets me change the images there with some frequency, means I can display work prints without framing them and get a feeling for living with an image before making any decision about its ultimate fate. I also have images in frames that I can "rotate through" without having to make a home improvement project of it.

Ben Marks

What a timely post. Wall space in my 800 sq/ft abode is (obviously) very limited. Yet in the past month, I have purchased five new pieces of art (prints, paintings, and sketches); the most recent one being a 3' x 4' monstrosity of a painting that I purchased yesterday.

While making yesterday's purchase, the friend who was with me asked (only half sarcastically) "So, where are you going to put this?" I just shrugged and sheepishly commented ... "I guess I'll have to start rotating pieces out, like a museum does!"

(Side note: This rate of art-accumulation is both uncharacteristic of me, and it's a rate that I can't sustain much longer! And while I can't blame either Mike or Ctein for my recent acquisition binge, I'm sure their time will come! Never the less, keep up the good work guys)

Geez Ctein, I have enough trouble keeping track of my own photographs to even think about collecting other photographer's work, and I have plenty of wall space since I only hang my own photographs and I'm my own worst critic. I do have an Ed Buziak cyanotype, that was featured on the cover of one of his magazine issues, that stays permanently displayed because I like it, and it matches the room's blue decor. I know, I'm no fun.

Next week on House Tips Ctein will demonstrate a little trick for super chargng your vacuum cleaner using ordinary household products!


The other "nasty little secret" is that no matter what great photographs you own, they are totally worthless ($$zilch, $$zero) until they are sold to someone else -- and there's the rub.

"no matter what great photographs you own, they are totally worthless"

Not if you enjoy looking at them, they're not.


"This is a situation where your artistic eyes will always be bigger than your habitable stomach (to coin a somewhat disquieting metaphor)."


Thanks, Ctein; your metaphor (disquieting, indeed!) gave me a well-needed chuckle in the midst of my day.

Dear Edd,

One of the photographs in my dye transfer portfolio at ctein.com is, in fact, upside down, because it looks better that way. I leave it as an exercise for the reader to figure out which one.


Dear dauga,

This seems to need repeating every couple of months. First, I don't report the news. I do a thrice-monthly column on which I write about anything I feel like, mostly photography. But Mike's in charge of timely news.

Second, I don't write every column for everybody. If a column doesn't interest you, wait 10 days and read the next one. I promise you that while this collecting stuff may be something you already knew, most new collectors don't know it, and based on what I've seen in people's homes, a surprising number of established collectors and artists never think about rotating what's on their walls.

So it's great that you already know this, but do consider all the people who don't.


Dear Bill,

Did you miss all the myriad columns and comments by both Mike and I in which we've talked about what a fool's errand it is to try to build a collection based on its "investment potential" or my regular remarks that art has no "intrinsic value," that it's what it offers you that determines its value?

Where's the secret?!

But here is a news flash: almost nothing you possess has any intrinsic value (at least compared to what you paid for it). It's only worth what you personally get out of it. Consumables? Obviously not. Durable goods or real property? Well, no matter what the gold bugs like to claim, gold is only worth what it's worth because other gold bugs will pay that much for it. A more stable form of tulip bulbs, but should the day come when gold bugs en masse get a clue, a lot of people are going to get stuck. And as for real property, the last couple of years have shown how stable its worth is.

It can't be said too often: you buy art because you like it. That's smart. Buying it because you think it will produce a good return on your investment is not.

~ pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com

Rotate... How many times have I heard at art fairs from potential clients, "I don't have any wall space" and how many times did I suggest "rotate your prints"? Now, if you could only come along and as an impartial third party convince these people of what you say, it'd be wonderful!


For me, walls are for bookshelves and windows. I like to hold prints in my hands and sit while viewing. The enjoyment I get out of a photograph takes an immense dive when I put it on the wall behind glass. Maybe I should buy better glass...

Posted by: Bill Mitchell: "The other "nasty little secret" is that no matter what great photographs you own, they are totally worthless ($$zilch, $$zero) until they are sold to someone else -- and there's the rub."

What Mike said, Bill. But also note that true collectors rarely sell except in times of dire financial stress. Traders sell. Dealers sell. Collectors collect. True photo collections are often donated to museums as part of an estate plan, or are handed down to family.

Also note that of the larger private collections with which I'm familiar few of the pieces are actually displayed in the owners' homes (or offices). Some are on private display, others may be on loan to museums or other exhibitions. But most of these collections stay in climate-controlled storage.

Dear Robert Howell,

Clearly you've forgotten THIS column:


pax / Ctein

I've had a couple of beers and I'm feeling reckless, nay, foolhardy. This will bring flames and charges of heresy down upon me, but I'm a long way away, heh heh.

Do we still need paper prints hung on walls? Perhaps this is the answer to making room for your collection?

LCD monitors are getting pretty good and pretty cheap. What if you had a collection of reasonably priced but good LCD screens in various sizes and placed them through your house? What if they were framed in real wood frames (to taste) so that they don't immediately look like LCDs? What if you had some in landscape and some in portrait depending on location, and perhaps some 16:9 wide-screen and some 4:3 to suit different pictures?

Then feed your pictures electronically to these screens. Make matts around the images as you prefer in an image editor.

Now you can rotate your images to your heart's content. Time them to change at midnight and you have new pictures every day. Or change them hourly. Change the timber frames as you like. Enhance the images as you like.

The cables would be ugly, but they could be hidden.

Viewing angle is not the problem it used to be and screen glare would be no worse than glass.

Maybe there's a business opportunity in this?

Just a suggestion.

Peter Croft
somewhere in Australia.

In my office/lightroom I have three upmarket poster hangers (1 art 1 in europe) that each hold a 31.5 by xx inch print. These can be assessed, enjoyed and rotated in and out of the big cardboard tube the hangers came in to my heart's content. Makes the storage of 'away' art easier. I'm sort of going off frames as it's more hassle to keep and harder to rotate prints through them.


The comments to this entry are closed.



Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 06/2007